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Bocce Court Plans Finally Killed by Cost Estimate

Cabots Point ParkA year after approving plans for a bocce court at Cabots Point Recreation Area, the Reston Association board of directors finally voted on Thursday to kill the idea.

It was not a quick task, as the idea of a 60-by-12 foot court on RA property off of South Lakes Drive was controversial from the start.

For months — and even as late as the public comment session at Thursday’s meeting — the board heard testimony and received written complaints from residents of South Bay and Cabots Point clusters, who were concerned about everything from parking to noise to garbage, public drinking and loss of green space for other activities.

There also was concern from some residents that the proposal was approved without any public input or notice.

Twice this year, the RA board voted down motions to rescind the approved plan and start over.

In the end, money was the deciding factor. The original estimate to build the court was $2,500, which would be paid for the Friends of Reston and not Reston Association.

However, an engineering firm estimate recently received by the board said the site review would cost $14,000.

“What should have been so simple is now so complex,” said South Lakes Director Richard Chew, who originally proposed the bocce plan, adding that he and former director Andy Sigle saw little downside in proposing the what they thought would be a “low-cost, high-benefit amenity for members.”

“RA is now estimating getting external estimates to be $14,000, bringing the total cost to $20,000,” said Chew. “It is clear to me spending $20,000 for a single bocce court is not in the cards nor should it be.”

The board on Thursday was set to vote on RA President Ken Knueven’s proposal to “direct staff, in light of the new cost information presented, to discontinue efforts in preparing a resubmission application to the Design Review Board for the installation of a bocce court and related accessible facilities at the Cabots Point Recreation Area.

However, Chew amended that motion to one that at least holds on to slim chance that bocce could someday come to Reston if the price and location is right.

Chew made a new motion to “move to rescind the board’s 2013 decision to authorize construction [of bocce at Cabots Point]. It is further moved to direct RA staff to explore more practical and more cost effective approaches to bring bocce to Reston.”

The motion passed unanimously.

Photo: Cabots Point Recreation Area/file photo

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RA Board Proposes to End Bocce Plan — Again

Outdoor Bocce Court/Credit: Joy of BocceIt has been more than a year since the Reston Association Board of Directors approved a bocce court for Cabots Point Recreation Area. For nearly as long, the RA Board has been trying to start the process over — or abandon it all together.

RA President Ken Knueven has proposed to “direct staff, in light of the new cost information presented, to discontinue efforts in preparing a resubmission application to the Design Review Board for the installation of a bocce court and related accessible facilities at the Cabots Point Recreation Area.”

The board will discuss and vote on the proposal at its regular meeting — the last one of 2014 — Thursday evening at RA Headquarters.

The new cost information, as reported in Reston Now last week, is an estimate from a civil engineering firm. The says it will cost $14,000 to for a site review for the park.

Costs include:

  • Establishing survey control and accurate topography on site: $2,000
  • Developing a minor site plan for submission to Fairfax County. Requirements include, but are not limited to: siting of elements, grading (existing and proposed topography), possibly erosion and sediment control plan and narrative, stormwater management calculations and narrative, possible landscaping requirements: $10,000
  • Plan submittal and review to Fairfax County: $2,000

Additionally, RA documents say that materials to build the court will cost most than $4,000. However, RA says it can donate the 80 hours of labor costs ($1,884).

The RA Board voted unanimously on Dec 12, 2013 to authorize the construction of the 60-by-12-foot court at Cabots Point, which is RA Common Area land. However, there were conditions:

  • Final design and location of the court is to be reviewed and approved by the RA staff and the Design Review Board. The DRB approved the application in June.
  • Funding for the construction of the facility including but not limited to landscape materials, benches and a picnic table is to be provided by the Friends of Reston for Community Projects, Inc. The original estimate was the total cost would be $2,500, to be paid for by the Friends of Reston, which so far has allocated $1,500 for the project. RA has not earmarked any money for the bocce court.
  • Once the above required approvals and funding have been obtained, further move to authorize RA staff to: 1) perform the necessary site preparation and associated court construction, including the expenditure of costs associated with materials and labor; 2) provide ongoing maintenance of the facility; and, 3) promote bocce as a new recreational amenity for Reston.

Meanwhile, there has been considerable negative reaction from RA members, particularly those who live in clusters close to Cabots Point. Those residents say bocce will bring noise, traffic and garbage to the area off of South Lakes Drive, as well as impede on open space used for a variety of purposes.

Others have told the RA Board that they were not adequately notified of the planned project, proposed by South Lakes Director Richard Chew last December, before the board approved it. RA has since changed the process of getting member feedback before voting on a new project.

In the last year, RA Directors have twice proposed pulling the bocce plan and starting over. Both times, the board voted to move forward.

Photo: Outdoor Bocce Court/Credit: Joy of Bocce

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RA Estimates Bocce Site Plan Will Cost $14K

Outdoor Bocce Court/Credit: Joy of BocceReston Association will review this week an additional cost of $14,000 to build a bocce court at Cabots Point Recreation Area.

RA CEO Cate Fulkerson said in materials for Monday’s Board Planning Meeting that RA has checked with a civil engineering firm, who says that a site review for the land at Cabots Point will cost $14,000.

The estimate takes into account:

  • Establishing survey control and accurate topography on site: $2,000
  • Developing a minor site plan for submission to Fairfax County. Requirements include, but are not limited to: siting of elements, grading (existing and proposed topography), possibly erosion and sediment control plan and narrative, stormwater management calculations and narrative, possible landscaping requirements: $10,000
  • Plan submittal and review to Fairfax County: $2,000

Additionally, RA documents say that materials to build the court will cost most than $4,000. However, RA says it can donate the 80 hours of labor costs ($1,884).

RA will have to ensure the addition of the bocce court and additional elements (walkway, bench, picnic table etc.) would meet current ADA/accessibility standards, said Fulkerson.

RA documents also said that Friends of Reston, which says it will pay the costs of the court, has $1,500 in designated donations for the project. RA has not marked any money to pay for the courts, so it is unclear where it would get $14,000 for a site plan.

When the project was approved by the RA Board nearly a year ago, the estimated total cost of the project was about $2,500.

There have been several other setbacks for the plan as well, including many complaints from neighbors who do not want the court, saying it will bring noise, traffic and garbage to the area off of South Lakes Drive.

Others have told the RA Board that they were not adequately notified of the planned project, proposed by South Lakes Director Richard Chew last December, before the board approved it. RA has since changed the process of getting member feedback before voting on a new project.

In the last year, RA Directors have twice proposed pulling the bocce plan and starting over. Both times, the board voted to press on.

The board will discuss and vote Monday on whether to further move on the cost estimate at its Dec. 18 full board meeting.

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RA Vote Keeps Bocce at Cabots Point in Place

Cabots Point ParkBocce in Reston lives to see another round.

The Reston Association Board of Directors on Thursday voted down President Ken Knueven’s proposal to rescind authorization of the proposal, passed by the board last December, to build a court at Cabots Point recreation area. In the motion, Knueven also suggested scouting new locations for the court.

Three directors (Ellen Graves, Michael Sanio and Eve Thompson) voted in favor of rescinding the plan. South Lakes rep Richard Chew and Knueven voted against pulling the plan. Directors Jeff Thomas and Lucinda Shannon abstained, and two directors were absent from the vote.

A similar proposal about starting over was made by RA CEO Cate Fulkerson in July, but after remarks to the board from Chew — who initiated the plan for the bocce court last year — Fulkerson’s proposal was not considered.

A second motion that returns the plan to the Design Review Board was passed Thursday by the directors. That means there will be further discussion about Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, which may add costs to the project, before the first bocce balls can be thrown.

The 12-by-60-foot court is estimated to cost $2,500 to construct and would be paid for by the nonprofit Friends of Reston. However, other communities say construction, maintenance and other factors could drive Reston’s costs much higher. If that happens, it is questionable whether RA would use its own funds for the project.

The bocce kerfuffle has been ongoing for more than six months. Many residents of South Bay, Cabots Point and Cedar Cove clusters, which are close to the park, say they were not given proper notification before RA approved the project. They also say the courts would take away open space and attract traffic and noise.

At RA’s September meeting, more than 20 residents spoke out against bocce.

On Thursday, several more reiterated their frustration, but RA also heard from one resident who supported the idea and pointed out that the public resistance was not befitting of a recreational amenity.

“Let’s put this in perspective,” said Jill Norvell, who lives in Cabots Point. “It’s a singular bocce court. It is not a brothel. It is not a multipurpose, lit athletic field. It is one bocce court. I’ve driven on South Bay Lane daily for 20 years. I have managed to navigate the area without an issue. Are you seriously concerned this one bocce court will cause traffic issues? Living in this area, trust me, this is the least of your traffic woes.”

“Not one scintilla or iota of open space will be lost to install this bocce court,” she added. “Its footprint size is less than a neighborhood pool lap lane. Don’t be derailed by knee jerk NIMBYism.”

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Poll: Go Back to the Bocce Drawing Board?

Outdoor Bocce Court/Credit: Joy of BocceThere has been much outcry recently over Reston Association’s plans to build a bocce court at Cabots Point Recreation Area off South Lakes Drive.

The RA Board approved the proposed 60-by-12-foot project last December. Residents of nearby clusters started notifying RA of their disapproval last spring.

Residents have several concerns. Among them: that they were not notified before the project was OKed (the process has since been improved); that the park will take away green space and other recreational opportunities for families and that non-members will use the park, causing parking issues, an increase in trash and a liability issue.

RA has vowed to push forward. Should it? Take our poll.

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Bocce Courts Also Sparked Controversy in Arlington

Bocce Court in Arlington/Credit: ARLnow.comResidents of three clusters close to Cabots Point Recreation Area have said a planned bocce court there will bring trash, parking issues, and ruin the atmosphere of a child-friendly park.

At last week’s Reston Association Board meeting, one neighbor told the board — which approved South Lakes Director Richard Chew’s proposal for a 60-by-12-foot court last December — that the court would “ruin the lives” of children who play at Cabots Point.

Some Reston Residents are also peeved that the plan was approved without adequate notification to affected parties in South Bay, Cabots Point and Cedar Cover clusters.

It turns out bocce, Italian-style lawn bowling, has raised the blood pressure of residents in other communities too.

In 2012, a proposal for bocce in Arlington’s Bluemont neighborhood led to acrimonious emails, emergency meetings and the resignations of several board members of the Bluemont Civic Association.

The issues sound familiar to the ones voiced by Reston residents.

“There were and continue to be significant concerns from neighbors at large and adjacent to the sites” for the proposed court, Bluemont resident and bocce opponent Maura Quinn told ARLnow.com in 2012. 

“Parking, trash, noise, lack of restroom facilities, and proximity to homes were all brought up over many months at BCA meetings,” she said at the time. “Many also believe that a cinder Bocce Court will cause significant dust/grime issues and will be unsightly in what is now lovely green space. There are Bocce leagues that play on grass throughout Arlington County calling into question the need for tearing out green space and replacing it with cinder.”

The Arlington County Parks Department’s response was that parking wasn’t an issue because most players would walk to the 13-by-50-foot court; that restrooms would not be needed because the park would not have more than 150 visitors at a time; that litter increase would be minimal; and that a public park should be open to the public for a variety of activities.

In the end, though, the parks department shelved the idea for Bluemont Junction Park in May of 2103, when it was deemed other sites would be more suitable. The county also did not think enough money would cover the costs — a $15,000 grant was available, but estimates for the project came in at $17,600 and $25,500.

The Reston project is estimated to cost $2,500, to be paid for by the non-profit Friends of Reston.

Even without the Bluemont court, bocce is alive and well in Arlington, where two courts opened in September 2013 in Ballston and bocce is available in a multi-use space in the Courthouse area. There are also two turf courts at La Tagliatella restaurant in Clarendon and bocce courts at Mosaic Park on Pollard Street.

The latter is the site of the DC Bocce League’s Arlington Division, which opens its season Wednesday night.

Photo: Bocce court in Ballston section of Arlington/Credit: ARLnow.com

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Residents Decry Bocce Presence, Procedure

Cabots Point ParkTraffic. Parking woes. Drinking. A direct disregard for the principles of Reston and infringing on green space.

Those were some of the comments from residents of Reston clusters close to Cabots Point Recreation Area at Reston Association’s regular board meeting on Thursday night. Nearly two dozen residents of South Bay, Cedar Cove and Cabots Point spoke to or sent in comments to the board in opposition of the bocce court that the RA Board approved last winter.

The plan calls for a 60-x-12 foot court, with the projected $2,500 cost to be paid for by Friends of Reston. The court would be built in the open lawn area of the park, which is used for a variety of activities such as soccer, lacrosse, baseball and simple running around. The remainder of the park contains benches and playground equipment.

In July, RA CEO Cate Fulkerson proposed taking bocce off the table and starting over because “proper notification and opportunity for public input or a hearing was not made regarding the proposed project and change in use of the recreation area.”

But after explanation from South Lakes Director Richard Chew that proper procedures were followed, Fulkerson’s proposal was voted to be taken off the agenda prior to the July 31 RA meeting.

The residents of the nearby clusters are not at all pleased with Chew, who lives in Cedar Cove. Many speakers at the meeting say the director reached out to one of the clusters but not the other, and that the project was pushed forward without the clusters’ knowledge.

“I object to this project for many reasons, including that the approval processes were blatantly ignored,” said Chuck Cascio, a longtime South Bay resident. “This was an appallingly self-centered breach of trust.”

South Bay cluster president Bill Parker said that mail to affected parties in the clusters was never delivered and was returned to RA. He also said that the field was recently marked off — but at 80-by-55 feet the space is much larger than the application approved by the Design Review Board in June.

“That will take up 4,400 square feet — almost half the park,” said Parker, adding that that those plans were not in the original application.

Parker also said the refusal to accept an appeal was improper and the listing of Cabots Point, Cedar Cove and South Bay clusters as affected parties and subsequent revocation of affected party status was misleading and incorrect. He added that Chew’s role in project and subsequent actions should preclude his further participation in it.

Other speakers appealed to the board that the bocce court would dramatically affect the area in a variety of ways. Among them:

Loss of green space. “Restonians can engage in impromptu, unstructured activities at the park.” South Bay resident Faye Cascio said in an email to the board that RA president Ken Knueven read. “Disrupting the tiny park’s natural appeal in order to install bocce would be a major violation of what Reston is all about. There are precious few places anywhere these days where parents and children can run and play in an unstructured environment.”

Adults at the park. “There is a real possibility that bocce can draw in less than desirable behavior, litter, crime, and drinking,” said a Cedar Cove resident . “That will interfere with families with young children that would enjoy the tot lot.”

Another resident pointed out that a NPR.com story that called bocce “a social game at a social gathering.”

“It’s a civilized game that brings people together … it’s mostly for the booze,” one recreational player says of bocce in the 2013 article.

Safety. Several speakers reiterated that South Bay, on the left side of the entrance to the park, has narrow streets and very limited parking. If more than a few cars parked there, emergency vehicles would be unable to get through, creating a public safety hazard.

Expense. While RA says the total cost of the project is $2,500 and will be paid for by Friends of Reston, one resident said that builders would likely have to level the slightly sloped lot. That could cost as much as $50,000, the speaker estimated.

“I would suggest RA spend its money elsewhere,” said one resident. Another resident suggested via e-mail that Reston spend its money on becoming a bat haven in order to better control insects.

RA has learned from the bocce issue. The association said in August that a new development review process has been established that will better involve residents before projects are approved.

Photo: Cabots Point Park/file photo

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